Last week, E3 attendees, including our own Community team, had the chance for some hands-on time with Final Fantasy XV. But instead of the short boss battle demo our Community fellows saw, I was treated to a different portion of the game--the entire first chapter. There are were many parts of the build that fans are bound to be excited about come September, but there was one aspect that could be a nuisance for veterans and newcomers alike.
Middle Of Nowhere
The demo started with me (as Noctis) and my gang of friends pushing our car on a long stretch of road in the middle of the desert. Eventually, we got the car to a gas station, owned by an old man named Cid. His daughter Cindy offered to fix the car in exchange for a few services, specifically hunting down some monsters in the area. At this point, I could have gone either straight for the monsters in question or explored the surrounding desert for a little bit. I chose to wander off the beaten path.
It’s no surprise that this desert location is massive. There were tall mountains in the distance, hills of different sizes dotting the landscape, and pockets of small towns throughout the area. With the car out of commission, I had no choice but to travel around on foot. Obviously, I couldn’t make the long trek in one day, so I made camp at dusk.
Ignis, one of my comrades, warned that the monsters were more dangerous at night, so it was better to set up camp than risk death. With a campfire set, I could have passed the time quickly so that the game fast-forwarded to the morning, or I could have chosen to cook a meal. Based on the recipe and ingredients, dishes such as a bowl or a meat-focused meal provided bonuses such as increased attack or defense.
When the sun rose the next morning, I continued on the journey. There were (thankfully) many quests available in each town. This ensured that I always had something to do instead of just wandering aimlessly in the desert.
Swinging At Shadows
Eventually, I decided to track down a group of monsters for a quest. As I targeted one of the creatures, the three others characters started to attack other monsters in the same group. Veterans of previous demos of the game, such as Episode Duscae and the Platinum Demo, will have an idea how the combat works: You use three different weapons to chain light, medium and heavy attacks together in order to vanquish enemies. In addition, you can parry and dodge attacks, and you can use multiple abilities, such as Warp Strike, to gain an advantage in combat.
However, this is all easier said than done. With a flurry of weapons flying around the battlefield, the fights tend to get chaotic, and not in a pleasant way. Even if you specifically target an enemy, it’s hard to see where they are because they constantly move around. There were a few times where I tried to break an enemy’s guard with the Warp Strike ability, but by the time I reached the enemy’s location, it already moved to another place or it easily broke my attack with its own counter-move.
At times, I’m fairly sure that I succeeded in a battle only because I was in the right place at the right time. For example, we encountered a large beast that took a few minutes to take down. During the fight, the in-game tutorial told me to use Warp Strike as a way to deal critical damage, but even when I followed the instructions, it seemed like the special attack wasn’t effective. To make matter worse, some of my allies (as well as myself) were knocked out a few times. Any member of the group could heal a downed comrade to get them back in the fight. However, the fast-paced nature of combat made the simple act of healing incredibly difficult. Also, it seemed that I could control Noctis only, and even when he was knocked out, I couldn’t switch to another character. I had to sit and wait for one of the group members to revive me.
Near the end of the fight, I executed two special group attacks that amazed the developers who were standing behind me watching my session. In truth, I had no idea how I pulled off the special moves. In all the confusion during combat, I just started button-mashing and hoped for the best. I’m not sure how long it will take seasoned Final Fantasyplayers to get acquainted with the combat, but for me, 90 minutes wasn’t enough.
After I defeated the monster, the group headed back and found out that the car was fixed. This allowed the group to travel farther than before, so I hit the road with the crew. This was the first time I had the chance to control the car, and the experience was disappointing.
I would compare the driving movements to that of a roller coaster on a track. Other than speeding up or hitting the brakes, I couldn’t steer the car in any direction that I wanted. Once it was on the highway, it wouldn’t leave its lane unless I turned onto an off-road path, gas station, or another street.
Eventually, I directed the car to travel to a nearby port to advance the story. However, I then had to wait for a ferry to take Noctis and his friends across the sea. In the meantime, I could take on more quests or participate in other activities such as fishing for food or talk to my comrades about our current mission.
The extra time also allowed me to explore other parts of the game, such as the magic synthesis system. By combining elements of fire, ice and lightning that I found in the desert, I could craft stronger magic spells to use in combat. There weren’t many elemental variations in this build, but that will change in the final version.
As I left the demo session, I had some mixed feelings about Final Fantasy XV. I loved the numerous quests and the massive open-world scenery, but the combat wasn’t as exciting as what was presented in the Platinum Demo. I understand that the developers wanted to make it fast-paced and intense, but I also need to feel as if I have control over how Noctis fights. Instead, it was a confusing blur of swords slashing through the air and creatures attempting to swipe me with their claws. There has to be a better way to find order within the chaos of combat.
I could live with the driving issues, but the game’s combat needs some improvement. If it's not changed before the September 30 release date, there are going to be many unhappy fans.
|Name||Final Fantasy XV|
|Platforms||PlayStation 4, Xbox One|
|Release Date||September 30, 2016|
|Where To Buy||Square Enix Online StoreAmazon (opens in new tab)Best Buy (opens in new tab)Target (opens in new tab)Walmart (opens in new tab)Gamestop (opens in new tab)|